Over the past few years, many individuals have risen to fame on YouTube due to their comedic, makeup, gaming, and cooking skills. Among those who have found success on the website are gamer PewDiePie, makeup guru Michelle Phan, and comedienne Jenna Marbles. But in South Korea, some locals are getting famous for eating massive amounts of food in front of their webcams in an online broadcast called mukbang.
Mukbang is a combination of the Korean words for eating (muk-ja) and broadcast (bang-song), and this craze is sweeping the country as thousands watch their favorite broadcasting jockeys, or BJs, enjoying a wide variety of dishes in a live stream.
The Business Insider reports that one particular mukbang star, BJ Patoo, earns up to $1,500 a night for simply eating in front of his webcam. But how does he make money by consuming noodles or other viands?
It was said that viewers would watch him and other BJs eat and make commentaries on the streaming service Afreeca TV, and fans can gift their favorite broadcasters with star balloons, which cost 10 cents per piece. BJs then exchange these star balloons for cash. It was reported that during the height of the craze in 2013, the top Afreeca TV BJ earned $250,000.
Each broadcast jockey brings something different to the table. All K Pop has compiled the top eight mukbang streamers on Afreeca TV, and two of them are young teenage girls described as being “adorable” and “pretty.” Another mukbang star is much admired for his tastefully done videos and high regard for aesthetics.
As to why South Koreans are enamored with these YouTube stars, it was said that it’s due to the fact that many younger people there are living alone, and that watching these BJs make them feel as if they’re dining with a friend. Others said that the experience is similar to living vicariously through another person, as watching the videos satisfy cravings without having to eat a single thing.
While mukbang may seem odd to westerners, it has become a way of life for younger South Koreans. As more tune in to watch these YouTube stars eat on camera, these BJs continue to rake in major earnings while enjoying delicious fare.
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